23 March ~ He was once hailed as Brazil's successor to Ronaldo, but Adriano is now 30, without a club, battling obesity and tarnished as a rogue with an unprofessional thirst for alcohol. Those familiar with the decline towards the end of Ronaldo's career may note the obvious parallels with Adriano, but the contrasts remains stark. Upon his retirement last year, Ronaldo had won a World Cup (he was a non-playing squad member in 1994) and was a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Adriano holds the unenviable record of winning three Bidone d'Oros, Serie A's award for the worst player of the season. That being said, he is in good company; Rivaldo and Christian Vieri are also winners.

A succession of reputable managers – José Mourinho and Roberto Mancini among them – have tried, and failed, to inspire the promising form he showed from 2002 to 2006, a period in which he scored 83 goals. Football may be a sport that lends itself to hyperbole, but the comparisons between Adriano and Ronaldo were not unreasonable. Several Argentinians, Carlos Marinelli among them, may have been wrongly called Diego Maradona's successor but Adriano had genuine world-class promise.

The upward curve his career was experiencing at both Parma and Inter came to an abrupt halt in 2006 following the premature death of his father, Almir Ribeiro. Brazil were favourites at that summer's World Cup but Adriano was average. He is far from alone in underwhelming when the stage was set for impressing, but he has never recovered.

In the years since, Adriano, nicknamed "the Emperor", has journeyed back and forth between Brazil and Italy. Battles with his weight, depression and a lack of desire have caused his reputation and international career to plummet. At one point, in 2009, he even had to deny rumours of his death. His penchant for nightlife was understandably unpopular with managers and, though some ignore players' vices if the returns justify doing so, Adriano remained listless.

The striker's last club was Corinthians, where he made just eight appearances in a year. Such was their frustration and lack of trust in him, Adriano was placed under "house arrest" in an attempt to force him to lose weight. He was released from his contract within a matter of weeks. The words of Corinthians' sporting director, Roberto de Andrade, were telling: "We did everything in our power to make him fit again. We came to the conclusion it was best to terminate the contract and he agreed." Adriano "agreed".

In a career that promised so much, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. A denouement may remain in the Emperor's tale, but it will almost certainly be another disappointment. The heights of the past are well and truly gone. Declan Warrington

Comments (9)
Comment by brodes 2012-03-23 10:25:38

I best remember Adriano as Pro Evo 4's unstoppable centre forward.

NB. Ronaldo received a winners' medal for 1994, didn't he? So he won two World Cups (2002) and is the all-time top scorer in the competition.

Comment by Pietro Paolo Virdis 2012-03-23 12:52:32

Adriano was released from his contract after:
- Pictures showed up in the papers of him at a party with heavilly armed criminals in the favela
- He didn't show up for practice, once he was missing for several days straight without anyone being able to get hold of him
- And the last, when he asked if he could skip one session, is when Corinthians gave up.

Comment by trickydicky 2012-03-23 14:16:20

Adriano is/was one of the best players I've ver seen, briefly. I don't know what season it was 05/06 or 04/05 or thereabouts, but he stated off on fire, and in an away Champions League Group Game at Valencia scored one of the best hat-tricks I've seen. To coin a Hansenism, he had pace and power, not to mention ridiculous ball skills, and a decent amount of flair.
I don't get the demonization of players, particularly Brazilians it would seem, who lack 'professionalism'. Adriano might have liked playing football, but he didn't necessarily like playing every day, didn't necessarily like training day in day out and spending his prime years living like a monk, eating white fish and pine nuts, and drinking mineral water. Especially if after his father died it made him look at life in a different light and realise football wasn't everything. I reckon I'd find it a bit dull.

Comment by Pietro Paolo Virdis 2012-03-23 16:31:02

It's not that he finds football dull, maybe he does, it's that he shows plenty of signs being an alcoholic.

Comment by cantagalo 2012-03-23 16:47:24

The pictures of Adriano with the guns in the favela (there were also photos of Wagner Love at a different party with various bandidos) appeared in 2009 when he was with Flamengo. He was also investigated by the police for his gift of a motorcycle to the mother of the leading traficante. It is worth noting that these extra-curricular activities didn't lead to the termination of his contract. Quite the reverse - he finished as top scorer in the Campeonato Brasileiro and led Flamengo to their first title in 28 years, something I'd have thought would have been worth a mention in the article. He left the following year for his disastrous spell at Roma.

Shortly after his return to Corinthians he suffered a serious injury which kept him out for six months and he never managed to regain full fitness. The final straw for him at Corinthians was a perceived lack of effort in training and, bizarrely, refusing to allow himself to be weighed. The only serious incident during his time there was when a woman travelling in the back of his car was shot in the hand but it was subsequently proved that it was her and not Adriano who fired the shot.

He is now back in Rio alternating between his old favela, Vila Cruzeiro (now pacified) and his apartment in Barra. Last week he and Ronaldinho had a night out together. Ronaldinho missed training the next day with a 'stomach upset'.

Adriano meets Ronaldinho meets Wagner Love (though he has been a model pro since returning earlier this year) in Rio looks like a perfect storm waiting to happen but if Flamengo do give him another chance, I'd like to think that he might just be able to give it one more go. If any club can make it happen for him, it's Flamengo whose supporters would bre delighted to swap Ronaldinho for him.

Comment by Pietro Paolo Virdis 2012-03-23 17:49:20

Here's a translation in the old forum about Adriano;f=1;t=010920#000000

Comment by cantagalo 2012-03-23 17:56:23

Ooh, thanks for reminding me of that. I'll have a re-read of it. Can't believe that it was 5 years ago....

Comment by cantagalo 2012-03-24 13:50:03

It's being reported that Adriano will start training with Flamengo on Monday.

Comment by subfoot 2012-03-29 23:36:54

cantagalo, thanks for completing an incomplete article. I was about to mention that it wasn't only decline post 2006, even though as overly patronizing Europeans we will say that winning in Brazil is much less glorious than winning in Europe- Also, the comparison of Ronaldo's end of career decline and Adriano's is a bit far fetched, considering Ronaldo's credentials, being subject to three massive knee surgeries and rising above it every time (including the post AC Milan injury back in Brazil for Corinthians). Additionally, even with a 100 kilos on, Ronaldo had a goal average higher than 0.5 per game with Corinthians. Ronaldo is a legend, Adriano a very good player who lost composure following the death of his father and a bad love story

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